• Michael Laxer

Lenin: Four rare photos



Published in the Soviet press for the 100th anniversary of Lenin's birth (April 1970) these were four photographs of Lenin that had been recently discovered.


They are included with descriptions of what the photos were about and are from May Day 1919, May Day 1920 and Lenin at the launch of the USSR's first electric plough in 1921.


This is a characteristic picture of Lenin as he appears in the reminiscences of relatives and coworkers. It was taken on the First of May, 1919. We see him here in a break from his nerve - racking and monumental schedule as head of government, in animated discussion with the secretary of the Moscow Party Committee, Vladimir Zagorsky.


The memoirs all mention his intense interest in what others had to say, his extraordinary gift for winning the confidence of his listeners. He worked as patiently and hard to win over an illiterate peasant to his point of view as a fellow member of the Council of People's Commissars. His patience was infinite with people holding views that were sincere but mistaken.


What he could not stand was phrasemongering and demagoguery . Both in official statements and in conversation he valued accuracy and a businesslike approach . That was Lenin's style of work; it was also what the times called for.


[The photo is, sadly, distorted.]



This picture was taken on the same day. We see Lenin watching the May Day parade. But somehow the festive spectacle is not reflected in the expression on his face. Looking at Red Square with his eyes narrowed characteristically, he was perhaps picturing all of Russia at the moment.


If the position of the young republic was not critical, it was certainly not easy. The Civil War was at its height, and although the Red Army was fighting back the onslaught of the White Guards and interventionists, it was with difficulty. Industry and transport were in a bad way.


The cities were hungry. The one mercy was that the winter frosts were over, but would the situation change radically by the next winter ?


These thoughts must have been crowding Lenin's mind at the moment. Yet the face in the photograph is calm and assured. He believes that this people who have taken power into their hands for the first time in history will not surrender it .



This photograph was taken at the 1920 May Day ceremonies in Moscow. It has more then a passing symbolic element. Lenin is laying the cornerstone for a memorial to Karl Marx The man whose theories he translated into living practice.



October 22, 1921 : Lenin at the test run of the first Soviet-made electric plow in a Moscow suburb.

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